hamtastic's picture
By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Jul 10 2008 9:54pm
Login or register to post comments

Table of Contents
Editorial Section
MTGO Discussion Items
Card Prices

V3's First Month can be found here.  I'm going to cover the progress week to week, then break them into months so as to keep this section somewhat manageable.V3 Month of May  Again, I will be shortening up the V3 section now that we're hitting our stride.


The scent of V3 in June reminds me of my childhood.  I spent countless hours sitting on the banks of a river.... blowing things up.

So far the first patch of June has not gone over well.  It didn't fix everything that it was supposed to fix (the art for the cards), and the card merge broke currently working cards (like Cabal Coffers, and the "Wish" style cards, and some of the "Enhanced" spells from the Ravnica block).  Also with this patch we get the information that there may be no progress in the backlog of bugs and fixes next week because of the events and not wanting to risk breaking things.  I can understand that trepidation, however, each week of pushing back fixes pushes back the time when we can start to get NEW things into the system, as well as return some of our old missing functionality as well.  On the plus side though, we did get Commander (aka Elder Dragon Highlander) back as a multiplayer format.  That alone almost balances out the issues that they caused with this latest patch.  Almost.

Week of June 13th:
We had our first real 'crash' type issue with V3.  According to the downtime notes this week they are pushing a patch to fix this issue going forward.  Tomorrow marks the start of the first release events on V3, and based on the popularity of the Shadowmoor set we should have some hefty server load this weekend, likely moreso even than the Nix Tix events a few weeks back.  I'm excited and nervous for this weekend.

Week of June 20th:
After last week's 'crash', things have been quite good, server wise.  Although there have been sporadic reports of issues from Comcast users as well as some overseas users.  However this appears to be outside of WotC's control and largely ISP related.  However, besides that (and the client based lag some users have), the system stood up to the stress very, very well.  No server lag or server crashes to speak of, not even during the busiest most heavily hit times of the events.  This week we heard another "oh yeah, that's a feature" statement regarding PE's and replays.  Namely that the lack of replays may become a 'feature' of playing online, since if they could stop deck scouting in paper Magic, they would. 

Week of June 27th:
Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  What a difference a week makes, eh?  So, here's the break down of the week: I jinxed the crap out of us.  The day after my last article (Saturday), we start to experience some hefty lag.  Games aren't starting, sideboards aren't showing up, and matches in general are pretty much toast.  Sunday they try restarting the game servers.  This doesn't fix the issue.  Monday they bring down the queues and restart the servers.  This doesn't help, the queues are down until Tuesday.  Tuesday they bump up the maintenance and try something.  It doesn't help.  The queues are down still and they try rebooting them again.  They do a Wednesday maintenance.  We come back up but the queues remain down.  They do some DB cleanup.  The queues are still down but at least the casual games are running fairly well again.  That brings us to Thursday.  Queues are still down, and apparently they're still no closer to solving the issue than they were on Saturday when it started.  That about sums up the turmoil from this week I think.

Week of July 4th:
So, the servers seem to be stable again... and the last statement we got from WotC mentions something about decks being stored and needing to be cleaned up.  Once they finished that up events started firing fine again.  Other than that, nothing much has happened this week.  Although the issue that the developers fought with last week came at the price of getting work on SP1.i, and it has been delayed at least a week and will be deployed on July 9th at the earliest.  Other than that, not much V3 news to report, which compared to last week, could be considered a good thing.

Week of July 11th:
No SP1.i this week.  Again.  As a consolation prize we do get a 5 hour downtime and a list of things that should be fixed when we do get SP1.  It seems that a few people figured that the 5 hour downtime was meant to deploy SP1 as a few seperate rants have started up since then.  A great summarization of the announced SP1.i fixes was done by Maxeel here: http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=16305040&postcount=40


MTGO, PE's and "Powermatching"

Last week in the comments section of my article I was asked to do some digging on the current issues we're seeing with the last round of Swiss events being "Powermatched".  Meaning that 1st place plays 2nd place and 3rd place plays 4th place, etc.  The first time we heard about this was mid-June, when Scott Larabee mentioned that this was how it was supposed to work.  The forum goers were quick to question it, based on the fact that the current DCI floor rules do not say anything about pairings being that way for the final round of Swiss pairings.  We then hear, later in the thread that there is some 'bug' with the tournaments and that they want them to be done 'properly'.  However, no new information has been provided based upon what the word 'proper' means in that context.  According to what we'd read up until then, the way MTGO was handling it is proper for the most part. 

Emoticon on the message board later showed the results of what happens with this setup here.  More discussion has followed regarding the impacts of this current 'bug'.

To compare to what should happen in this case here's section C3.3 from the DCI Tournament Handbook:

"For all subsequent rounds after the first, pair players with the same match points against each other randomly. (If there is an odd number, match one player from that group with a person from the group with the next-highest match points.) Do not use tiebreakers when pairing between rounds."

Right now, we're in direct violation of the DCI floor rules, which is disturbing.  Especially with no official statement from Scott or Gordon regarding Scott's first statement in th pairing thread.  What is "proper".  According to the DCI, only random placement is proper, and we're currently powermatching.  For reference the DCI rules information can be found on this page: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dci/doccenter/home.

Thread of the week: EDH/Commander Forums!


This time I'm highlighting a forum, the EDH aka Commander forum on the WotC message boards and the three request for comment threads that are currently residing in it.  Apparently there's a WotC article about the format coming up and they're looking for some feeback for it.  So for all you EDH/Commander players out there, please give her a hand!  If you've never played in the format it's one of the best casual formats of the game and you're missing out on one of the best times to be had infront of a keyboard.  *smirk*

Shadowmoor Card Price Status

Last up for the wek is the Shadowmoor price decrease information.  Why is it in the Editorial Section?  Because I think it's important enough to list twice to ensure proper exposure.  Last week I speculated on where we'd be for the sum of the Shadowmoor set.  There has been a lot of concern around the prices dropping too fast and too far.  What did I find?  I found that the price decrease is more than Lorwyn and Morningtide's were at this time... but barely.  Here's what we see:


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
416.15 243.61 178 171.57 151.59
172.54 238.15 244.58 264.56
41.46% 57.23% 58.77% 63.57


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
250.25 135.22 113.68 110.58 n/a
115.03 136.57 139.67 n/a
45.97% 54.57% 55.81% n/a


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
350.06 161.08 143.32 150.33 127.96
188.98 206.74 199.73 221.1
53.99% 59.06% 57.06% 63.45

As many of you probably know, I've been following the price decreas of Shadowmoor since it was released, mostly out of concern that it would show an extremly large drop in price, and that would show a weakening MTGO economy.  And after my first week I was a bit concerned, to be quite honest.  Shadowmoor fell further and faster than the previous two sets did.  Then something interesting happend from week two to week three... Shadowmoor didn't drop a lot more than the previous two did.  Week three to week four was even more interesting, the other two caught up to where Shadowmoor was at the time.  And that brings us to week five.  Oh, week number five.  How interesting I find thee, let me count the ways.

Well, first up, there really is no week five for Morningtide as V2 was being shut off the prices flatlined for that month.  Bummer.  But what about the previous big set?  Funny thing, that.  We are at nearly the identical spot now, as we were then.  Buh?  That's right.  Each set had lost 63.xx% from it's launch prices to this point, and I trust that Morningtide would have followed the exact same pattern if it weren't for the V2 shut down.  To illustrate the point with graphs:

The graph above shows the price drop of each set for the specified weeks.

The above graph shows the percentage lost each week for the respective sets.

So what does this tell us?  That the MTGO economy is fine in this regard, and that whatever market forces applied in V2 are still applying to V3.  At least in this case.


New website: Draftbetter.com
A new site for people to see and discuss draft walkthroughs.  I've walked through a few of them and so far it seems to have some good information about SSS drafts.

Budget Deckbuilding Contest! -
Hollow0n3 has a very restrictive contest brewing on the MTGO Message boards.  Think you have what it takes to win it?   (Bumping this since it's almost over)

Is Casual Prismatic Dead? -
A recent forray of a player into the world of regular Prismatic Casual play left a poster wondering... is Casual Prismatic dead?  Add your thoughts to the thread!

Is Casual Classic Dead? -
Similar to the Casual Prismatic thread, this question asks about the health and popularity of the Classic Casual format on MTGO.


What to do with Commons -
Ever wonder about things you could do with the excess draft dredge commons?  Some pretty nifty ideas have been shared so far in the thread above.  Add your voice or idea!

SP1.i speculation and discussion -
Discussion about the importance of SP1, the needed fixes and the concerns that many players have about it. 

Shadowmoor Price Dropping -
This was large reason as to why I did the research in my Editorial Section.  The SHM prices are, by percentage, about where they should be.  Discuss they why's and wherefor's in the thread above!

Burning non-renewable resources -
This thread brings up the fact that MTGO is using up its ability to draw in new or lapsed players by enticing them with old cards.  When they use up all their MED's and old sets we will be in a state of stable, static, MTGO sets being a month behind paper and nothing new in sight. 


Big MTGO fixes, again -
It seems that the plan to McNuggetize the SP1 fixes has caused issues internally and the MTGO staff are now heading down the path of a big fix to get them 'caught up' again.  I ranted about this before, and I think I'm happy to see this change back in philosophy.  I'll be happier once they push the fix and things don't break though.  Discussion of the announcement here


League Discussion -
Leagues, and the lack thereof.  Also, format fixes as well as discussion of shortcomings of the previous league system.  Unfortunately, there's been no official WotC communication about what is in store for V3 leagues as of yet.

Taking a break + Mailing Lists -
When yet another poster mentioned that they were leaving until <insert reason to play here> I decided to step up and make something happen.  Rather than waiting for them to come back I've created mailing lists to which interested people can subscribe.  Instead of letting them go away and hope they check back peridiocally I wanted to be proactive about letting them know when their favorite format is back.  Leagues List, Multiplayer List



Bugs: Client

04-20-08 Can't /join rooms Closed
05-02-08 Trades don't update Collections properly Mostly Closed


Bugs: Card Related

A great thread has been started here that has a lot of bugs in V3 listed and validated.  If you've seen any card bugs in V3, I'd love to see them posted (after they're submitted via the http://wizards.custhelp.com web form, of course!)



Old Price New Price Name Cost difference
39.6 35.64 (Vindicate) -3.96
16.58 13.61 (Reflecting Pool) -2.97
14.85 12.87 (Burning Wish) -1.98
29.7 27.72 (Meddling Mage) -1.98
37.62 35.64 (Pernicious Deed) -1.98
4.41 2.67 (Graven Cairns) -1.74
6.86 5.39 (Fulminator Mage) -1.47
6.86 5.64 (Mystic Gate) -1.22
9.9 8.82 (Pithing Needle) -1.08
32.42 31.43 (Tarmogoyf) -0.99
36.63 35.64 (Force of Will) -0.99
35.64 34.65 (Orim's Chant) -0.99
28.71 27.72 (Vampiric Tutor) -0.99
14.36 13.37 (Undermine) -0.99
14.85 13.86 (Fact or Fiction) -0.99


Wow.  The big ticket cards took a bath this week.  Each member of the IPA "Big Four", Force of Will and Vampiric Tutor all fell pretty hard.


Old Price New Price Name Cost difference
3.43 4.41 (Pyromancer's Swath) 0.98
14.85 15.59 (Terravore) 0.74
1.7 2.43 (Crypt Angel) 0.73
4.41 4.9 (Zur the Enchanter) 0.49
3.92 4.41 (Angel of Despair) 0.49
2.94 3.43 (Sower of Temptation) 0.49
4.41 4.9 (Nemata, Grove Guardian) 0.49
1.46 1.94 (Austere Command) 0.48
9.56 9.9 (Chameleon Colossus) 0.34
0.97 1.26 (Idyllic Tutor) 0.29
7.35 7.6 (Magus of the Moon) 0.25

On the other hand, some random cards jumped up, and some revived tournament staples regained some lost life as well. Not a lot of gaining this week, but it's nice to see some increase along with the decreasing prices.

First up, this week's Ham Jones chart!  And we see a decrease across the board!  Classic, Extended, and Standard, all dropped this week, possibly making up for last week's unexpected gains.

So how drastic was the drop?  Pretty drastic I'd say.  One of the largest week to week drop that isn't directly after a set is released from what I can tell.  So is it time to panic?  I don't think so.  At least not yet.  I'm not sure what's caused this recent decrease in prices but I don't think it'll hold out for too long.  Especially now that the server usage numbers are starting to rebound after the Shadowmoor set release.  The average users now are starting to line up a bit closer to what V2 was toward the end of its life, according to the numbers I've seen on infobot's site (aside: yay infobot!).  Anyway, there are a few reasons as to why a mass decrease is going on right now.  The first one that comes to mind is the rotation of Extended and Standard sets that is just a few months away.  Another is a decrease in old card value based on demand for newer cards.  Also possible is that the people who are willing to buy secondary MTGO products right now is lower than it was before.  To me, that would seem to be the constructed players, either competitive or casual.  Based on what fell, (namely, high priced cards), I'm thinking that it's a lack of people willing to pay big prices for MTGO cards right now.  Although to be fair, the majority of large falling cards are from soon to be Classic legal cards in IPA and OTJ.  Which makes me think that the overall dropping is a combiation of weakening competitive constructed demand, weakening of Casual demand, and expensive cards rotating into a niche format.  I don't know what WotC has up their sleeve to fix the constructed problems but I hope they start it up soon.

I would like to thank the Anonymous poster last week who asked me to look into the power matching issues we're currently experiencing.  I was actually pretty oblivoius to what the Paper rules are as I've never really dealt with Competitive Paper outside of a pre-release environment.  Getting to learn more about the game I've enjoyed so much was a great experience.  I'd forgotten the exhileration that delvinging into a completely new aspect of the game brings me.  Thanks again, and have a great weekend!

- hamtastic


tyvm by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 07/11/2008 - 12:11
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Thank you for your dedication to this work.  It's thurough and easy to comprehend.

One thing I forgot to mention... by hamtastic at Fri, 07/11/2008 - 10:00
hamtastic's picture

According to Solice, the server status widget on the MTGO homepage has been fixed.  We'll have to wait and see how it handles this week's downtime I guess, but at the very least, the date/time is being updated.  :)